In “Mind vs. Machine”, in The Atlantic (March 2011), Brian Christian reflects
When the world-champion chess player Garry Kasparov defeated Deep Blue, rather convincingly, in their first encounter in 1996, he and IBM readily agreed to return the next year for a rematch. When Deep Blue beat Kasparov (rather less convincingly) in ’97, Kasparov proposed another rematch for ’98, but IBM would have none of it. The company dismantled Deep Blue, which never played chess again.
The apparent implication is that—because technological evolution seems to occur so much faster than biological evolution (measured in years rather than millennia)—once the Homo sapiens species is overtaken, it won’t be able to catch up. Simply put: the Turing Test, once passed, is passed forever. I don’t buy it.
Rather, IBM’s odd anxiousness to get out of Dodge after the ’97 match suggests a kind of insecurity on its part that I think proves my point. The fact is, the human race got to where it is by being the most adaptive, flexible, innovative, and quick-learning species on the planet. We’re not going to take defeat lying down. No, I think that, while the first year that computers pass the Turing Test will certainly be a historic one, it will not mark the end of the story.
No, I bet not. For one thing, if computers became a big problem, pulling the plug is always an option. I did that once with a TV, and nothing bad happened.
Denyse O’Leary is co-author of The Spiritual Brain.